Quebec Tripartite Memorandum of Understanding Education Agreement
May 4, 2012
Check against delivery.
Hello. It is a pleasure for Senator Dagenais and myself to be here today in Abenaki territory, "land of the rising sun", accompanied by Chief Ghislain Picard of the AFNQL, the Director of FNEC, Lise Bastien, the Chiefs and Council of the partner communities, the students of Kiuna School and the distinguished guests invited to attend the signing of this tripartite agreement on education. For me, this is a very special occasion. I would like to express my gratitude to Chief O'Bomsawin and his community for welcoming us to this event at Odanak today.
Key to a good job is a good education. A good education will equip Aboriginal youth with the skills they need to enter the job market and share fully in Canada's economy. That's why today together we're taking an important step toward a better future for First Nations students in Quebec with the signing of the memorandum of understanding Canada, Quebec, the Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador and the First Nations Education Council of Quebec have committed to working together to ensure that First Nation students experience the same educational outcomes as students in the rest of Quebec.
We will work together to improve the educational experience for students in schools both on and off reserves. The tripartite agreement will serve as a road map to all parties – teachers, officials and administrators – for encouraging First Nations students in their academic studies.
By working together, things like programming, supports and curriculum standards will be better aligned. Under the MOU, the Quebec education system and First Nations communities will formalize a process for working more efficiently together. The agreement will also enhance understanding of First Nation communities and culture by developing inclusive curriculums. The MOU will benefit close to 3,200 students from 10 of the 22 communities represented by the First Nation Education Council. The agreement has the potential to benefit even more students should the remaining 12 communities choose to opt in.
Our government recognizes that education is crucial to unlocking the potential of First Nations and to creating healthier, more self-sufficient communities. On March 29th, our government tabled Economic Action Plan 2012, our plan for jobs, growth and prosperity. It includes a number of measures that will benefit Aboriginals in Canada. For instance, we committed to having in place by 2014 a First Nation Education Act to establish the standards and structures necessary for strong, accountable education systems.
We are also committed to investing $275 million over three years in First Nations education to improve school infrastructure and raise literacy levels all across the country.
These commitments build on the investments our government has made over the last six years in improving educational outcomes for First Nations students, including more than $1.5 billion annually in funding for education, the construction of 37 new schools and major renovations to 22 more, and partnerships like the one we're announcing today with the province and First Nations to launch or extend programs to improve education results. Today, today we're demonstrating the determination of First Nations Canada, provincial governments and willing partners to work together towards our shared goals. We'll continue to work with First Nations and our partners across Canada to deliver tangible and lasting results for First Nation students.
In conclusion, I would like to congratulate all those who have made this tripartite agreement on education possible. The role that each of you play in improving the living conditions of First Nations students in Quebec is absolutely vital. Rest assured that we will continue to work hand in hand and in partnership to provide First Nations youth with a quality education, one which will open many doors to a better future for them. Thank you.